Global travel brings unique, albeit solvable, challenges in planning and preparing. From deciding what to take to wear, especially if your itinerary has various climate changes within the same country and/or nearby countries, to packing efficiently/compactly, to choosing the best type of luggage, good planning will make your trip more successful.
Take it from someone who’s traveled her fair share over a lifetime to ‘Western’ like countries, third-world and emerging world countries, travelers can be at higher risk than non-travelers for major risk factors like identity theft, it’s really important to consider having some sort of identity theft protection software before hitting the road. IF something happens, you have some backup in getting things resolved and worked out. Another big must before you start any travel planning is to always check for travel warnings and alerts. Staying safe is paramount!
I can safely say that schlepping around heavy luggage, and worse yet several pieces, regardless of having wheels can be a beast of burden when you’re on the road for days and weeks. And, if you’re changing locations and modes of transportation from trains and planes to shuttles and busses then you’ll be cussing that luggage every step of the way! So, a piece of golden advice.
Unless you’re the royal Prince or Princess of some country with an entourage of hands, consider the hand at the end of your arm the one that will help you Another word to the wise, pack lightly and only essentials. Wear and re-wear things. Unless you’ve got an event like the red carpet Oscars, you’ll love your yoga pants,comfortable jeans, cuddly hoodie, comfy shoes, etc. And, only one pair that works or everything. Unless you take lightweight flipflops or ballet flats. Those don’t take up much room or add significant weight.
Always when you’re traveling, you’ll have the standard things you want to take that let you stay ‘connected’ and chronicle memories–your electronics. These items can take up a lot of space and add weight real quickly. Yes, they can be heavy. For me, it’s always a Nikon camera, several lenses, a portable tripod. Then there are other items like a laptop, external hard drive(s), cell phone, maybe a Go Pro, iPad, Kindle, etc.. These things start filling your backpack because they are never ever checked.
Then add to those items cords, international receptacle adapters, portable chargers and more, and you almost need a donkey to help carry your ‘stuff’. I opt for a really great fitting backpack. Ergronically fitted to my body and holding about 28 liters. Lots of nooks and crannies for the quick ‘go to’ stuff. Then I always adorn it with sevveral scarves tied securely to the outside. I never travel without at least one large scarf. Extremely versatile.
When traveling to countries where the food is different than your standard fare, then you open a ‘pandor’s box’ of other things that you’ll need to take along. Whether the food’s spicy, rich, prepared in different ways or if there’s concern about the quality and safety of the water, you have to be prepared. For instance, while in Morocco for about two weeks, I never used tap water for anything other than flushing a toilet or showering. When I brushed my teeth, I used bottled water I purchased along the way and for drinking. I didn’t eat raw vegetables or fruits (unless I could peel, like a banana) because even if they were washed, it was most probably in the tap water, rather than filtered water. Basically, my ‘system’ probably couldn’t handle the foreign microbiotics and different bacteria the way the locals’ tummies could.
So, what do I take that is more important than any makeup, jewelry (no, nothing is taken!) or clothing and that I would never not have at my fingertips? As in my backpack and/or a messenger-type bag worn over my body. Well, here you go. Others might have a differnt list. This list is totally based upon my experience over years of globe trotting. Hope it makes your next trip a tad bit more happy!
This goes without saying. Never pack your medications in a checked bag. Never. And, always have a clean pair of underwear, maybe a change of clothes, in your carry on bag. Sometimes you make it, but you luggage doesn’t.
Tablets. Take them out of the box. Put in a small container. Label. I’ve checked more of these than I care to count when in some countries. If you don’t like Pepto, then a ‘one in all’ for your tummy, gas, indigestion, diaharreah. You get the idea.
About 5 or 6. Maybe a couple of gallon size and then smaller sizes. They’re great for most anything you need to keep collected into one place, like dirty undies. You’ll worship these little plastic critters for their ability to organize your life.
Besides flossing, you’ll be able to use for other purposes. Never underestimate when you’ll need a great piece of string. Sturdy and hard to break.
Great for so many things like when you wind up your electronic cords. Or maybe you want to keep something together. Throw in a few that are different sizes.
Ball Point Pens
Keep at least one handy. When you go through immigrations, you’ll have forms to fill out. Nice to have a ballpoint pen quickly available. Then when you’re out and about, you never know when you might want to jot something down.
Small Spiral Writing Pad
Nothing big, for sure, maybe a 3×5 or smaller size. Just for jot notes. Sure you have your cell phone, but sometimes doing it old school is quicker and more reliable.
Oh, the dryness of travel. Sometimes my hands feel like sandpaper. Flying dehydrates all of you, and you’ll need to super hydrate in new environments. That means water and your skin needs high-quality lotion. Make sure you put some in small bottles or buy the travel size.
Just like your skin, your eyes get really dry. The drops are soothing and help take away the sratchiness and redness. Make sure you have this small bottle in a handy place when you need it. I always lubricate my eyes when I awake and before I go to bed. It’s like a ‘shower’ for my hard-working optics.
Yes, ,those nasal passages dry out quickly. The spray really helps. When you shower, create a ‘make shift’ nettie pot to clean out the nasal passages. Tilt your head under the shower. Close one nostril, inhale the warm water, blow it out. Repeat with the other. So much bateria lives here and you want to purge it daily.
Tissues & Wet Wipes
Besides blowing you nose, tissues and wet wipes are great when you use the toilet and reaize it’s not a ‘Western’ toilet. Maybe scratchy rough paper or none at all. Again, it’s a little, no, big, luxury that you’ll be glad you have. I buy the small package of Pamper wipes. No wonder babies feel so great after a dippeeee change!
Eeegads, we know all the germs out there. Now, don’t be a gremaphob, but realize that you need to swipe and wipe more often when traveling than when not.
Tylenol or Ibuprofen
If it’s not one of these, then something for a headache and/or aches and pains. You’ll be on your feet a lot. Cramped into small spaces. Your lower back might start aching, your knees…whatever. Just having something that gives you some relief. You do want to enjoy your trip!
Sun Block. Hat. Scarf.
24/7. That’s the rule. Always put it on regardless of the weather. Make it at least level 30, too. You want to block both UVA and UVB rays.Again, travel size. The hat must be crushable with a visor. Sun can be intense. Don’t take chances. A good scarf comes in handy in many situations for both women and men. So, tie one to your backpack.
Never leave home wherever that may be with out it. Always in a side pocket of my backpack.
You never know where your belly will growl or hunger will strike. Could be while you’re looking at the Mona Lisa or riding a camel in the Sahara. Always have a few quick snacks tucked in the pocket of your backpack. I love cheese and/or peanut butter crackers, granola bars and trail mixes!
All of these things, minus the water and snacks, travel with me in two zip lock bags that are tucked into a special zipper pocket of my Patagonia backpack. I know exactly where to find them. Whether I’m in a hotel, on a train, in a plane, subway, riding a camel, walking, touring a museum or whatever, I have what I need with me if nature calls or if circumstances dictate.